On Being a Mindful Authoritarian: Is Need for Cognition Always Associated with Less Punitiveness?



Previous research shows that the motivation to be mindful is associated with less intolerance toward deviant and stigmatized groups. The present research examines authoritarianism as a possible moderator of this seemingly robust finding. We obtained consistent evidence from two studies that authoritarianism (right-wing authoritarianism, social dominance orientation) moderates the relationship between need for cognition and punitiveness. Among low authoritarians, need for cognition was negatively associated with punitiveness and dispositional attribution of crimes and positively associated with support for rehabilitation of criminals. However, among high authoritarians, the pattern reversed. These results are discussed in the context of some recent advances in the understanding of motivated social cognition.